First Iraq-flagged oil tanker in three decades left Basra for USA

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SHAFAQNA – Iraq has Exported First Crude Oil Cargo through Iraq-flagged tanker for the first time in three decades.

Iraq, which has been ravaged by a series of wars since the 1980s, is the oil cartel OPEC’s second-biggest producer with 153 billion barrels of proven crude reserves.

“The Baghdad left Basra on Friday night headed for the United States. It is the first time since 1991 that Iraq is running its own oil tankers”, oil ministry spokesman, Assem Jihad, said. Basra, in southern Iraq, is an oil-rich province.

In May, Iraq exported 3.5 million barrels of oil per day (bpd), according to the oil ministry. Iraq’s maximum production capacity is about 5 million bpd, although the government’s plan is to increase this capacity to 6.5 million bpd by 2022, according to Energy Voice’s website.

Under late dictator Saddam Hussein, Iraq went to war with Iran between 1980 and 1988 and invaded Kuwait in 1990, before being expelled by a US-led coalition.

Since an American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the country has been blighted by long periods of chaos, culminating in a three-year battle against Islamic State group militant , Middle East Eye reported.

The Iraq War was a war for oil, and it was a war with winners: Big Oil.

Before the 2003 invasion, Iraq’s domestic oil industry was fully nationalized and closed to Western oil companies. A decade of war later, it is largely privatized and utterly dominated by foreign firms.

From ExxonMobil and Chevron to BP and Shell, the West’s largest oil companies have set up shop in Iraq. So have a slew of American oil service companies, including Halliburton, the Texas-based firm Dick Cheney ran before becoming George W. Bush’s running mate in 2000.

Oil was not the only goal of the Iraq War, but it was certainly the central one, as top U.S. military and political figures have attested to in the years following the invasion.

“Of course it’s about oil; we can’t really deny that,” said Gen. John Abizaid, former head of U.S. Central Command and Military Operations in Iraq, in 2007.

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan agreed, writing in his memoir, “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.” Then-Sen. and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the same in 2007: “People say we’re not fighting for oil. Of course we are.”

While the U.S. has also maintained a fairly consistent level of Iraq oil imports since the invasion, the benefits are not finding their way through Iraq’s economy or society. These outcomes were by design, the result of a decade of U.S. government and oil company pressure. In 1998, Kenneth Derr, then CEO of Chevron, said, “Iraq possesses huge reserves of oil and gas-reserves I’d love Chevron to have access to.” Today it does, CNN reported.

Infrastructure in Iraq, which depends on oil for 99 percent of revenue, was devastated, so authorities are looking to boost oil and gas output.

According to Energy Today, Iraq has formed a joint venture with a shipping company owned by Arab states to transfer, store and trade crude and oil products.

The country has leased four tankers and is expected to obtain three more at a later date.

Iraq is looking to have its own fleet after decades without its own vessels, planning to invest in the creation of world-class strategic infrastructure for oil and gas, shipping logistics and trading operations.

 

Read more from Shafaqna:

Retired US officials move into oil business in Kurdistan’s ‘Wild West’

IEA: US will remain the world’s top source of oil supply growth up to 2020

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